A Latter-day Bluestocking

For the love of reading

Month: July, 2012

Quote of the Day: Samuel Johnson


 “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.  No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784


Beach Reading 2012, Part 2

I am now half way through the final book on my previous beach reading list and since the summer is only half over I needed to compile another beach reading list.  Without further ado here it is:

1).  Life of Pi by Yann Martel  (highly recommended by my sister).

2).  The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (a Man Booker Prize Finalist and sounds spooky).

3).  Like Water for the Chocolate by Laura Esquirel (because I loved the film and always wanted to read the book).

4).  Sharpe’s Fortress by Bernard Cornwall ( book 3 in a great historical fiction series).

5).  The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (sounds like a powerful and touching story).

Beach Reading Reviews 2012 Part 2

Here’s the second half of my beach reading reviews.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

A simply monstrous story, a young man trades his soul for eternal youth and leads a sordid dual life, indulging every impulse and desire maintaining all the while a gentleman’s facade.  As Dorian Gray’s portrait exhibits the sins of his sinful life he moves on to ever more unspeakably and horrifying transgressions.  A page-turner and frightening.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

A beautiful story of a man’s struggle against nature written in Hemingway’s characteristic style free of superfluous words.  He simply and elegantly the old man’s determination in the face of defeat.  Powerful!

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor

Absolutely awful.  Nonsensical clap-trap about how to achieve happiness in love by following the example of Austen’s heroines.  Preachy, thus annoying.  Not recommended.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Despite being over 1000 pages long, an engaging tale.  This is the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series relating the quest for domination of the Seven Kingdoms.  If you are a fan of the fantasy genre definitely a must-read.

Beach Reading Reviews 2012 Part 1

A short time ago I posted my list for beach reading.  I have been plowing right along and thought I would share my opinions.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day  by Winifred Watson

An absolutely joyous read.  So pleasurable and full of verve and good humor; fun from cover to cover.  It depicts a day in Miss Guinevere Pettigrew’s life; she is desperately in need of a job and presents herself for a position as governess to a glamorous young woman, Delysia Lafosse.  And then everything goes awry in the most charming and vibrant way.  1930s London nightclubs and dangerous men abound.  It is a wonderfully charming Cinderella story with hilarity at every turn.

Miss Timmins School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

A suspenseful love story and murder mystery.  It is beautifully told and takes place at a girls school in India founded in the British mode.  But it’s the 70s and there is sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  It is a coming-of-age tale dramatically written and explores adolescent angst and uncertainty, the still prevalent antagonism of colonialism, and the quest for one’s place in the world.  It is moody, the monsoon rains adding to the oppressiveness.  I could not put it down.

Summer by Edith Wharton

A coming-of-age story told in the indomitable Wharton way depicting the sexual awakening of Charity Royall.  The young girl experiences her first romance and quickly learns that love can be sweet, passionate, and heartrendingly painful.  The difference is she is wide-eyed about it.  When published in 1917 it was shocking in its depiction of female sexuality.  A not-to-be-missed classic and as significant today as it was then.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Terrible!!  Mildly titillating and abhorrently annoying.  The writing is cheap.  Characterization is shallow, plot is deficient. This book reinforces all the most horrible stereotypes of why women fall for bad men. Mindless schlock for the beach or a long plane ride; not to be taken seriously at all. Fan-fiction gone horribly wrong!!!

Beach Reading 2012

When the temperature begins to rise the last book I want to read is a serious tome.  With the onset of the care-free days of summer my brain does not want to be taxed.   I want a good story, something I can bring to the beach and enjoy with the ocean breezes and nap if I am so inclined.  In other words, I don’t want a committment, I want a summer romance.  For example the ubiquitous Fifty Shades of Grey is included on this summer’s list.  This doesn’t mean I will only read poorly written crap.   In fact, I have some classics on my list but what all these books have in common is a good story where I do not need to analyze plotlines, hidden agendas, characterization, etc.  Some may be well-written and book club worthy others are included just for the pure joy of reading a story even if poorly written.  So here’s the Beach List for 2012:

1.Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson  (so much fun, pure joy)

2.Miss Timmin’s School for Girls by Nayan Currimbhoy (could not put it down, a good mystery)

3. Summer by Edith Wharton  (the title says it all)

4. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (again, seems summer-appropriate)

5. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (mostly to see what all the hoopla is about)

6. The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (a good story and wonderfully written)

7. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (because I need to finish the 4th book before I can borrow mys sister’s 5th book)

8. A Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor (because you can always use a little Jane Austen)

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